Saturday, April 4, 2009

Rich's Four Rules

I had the opportunity to guest lecture at a university in downtown Philadelphia the other day.

It was very interesting for me and quite revealing about the nature of our college students today. Some of them are pretty darn smart. The class was a microcosm of all of humanity. Some people are just dragging their way though, some are so smart they don't really have to try, some have specific goals, some can write very well and some can't. And they were all ridiculously young.

I spoke to them about my company, Siemens, and my data center but I also provided some advice about how to succeed in the business world. And that seems to have had more of an impact than any of the technical crap I had heaped upon them. They appear to have appreciated the advice. Wow, that was a little unexpected.

How about that! I guess advice is a scarce commodity nowadays. Well, it turns out I've got plenty of that. Hey, I'm old, I've been around, this is not my first hayride. Wanna see my scars?

So, I gave them some specifics about what to do under certain circumstances and how to approach relationships with their future boss. These are all things I've learned under years of pressure and duress and attempted intimidation and distress and hated. You know, the usual.

And at the end I told them my Four Rules which I developed over the years by watching patterns. It used to be Three Rules but I noticed over time that there were some outliers when I tried to make everything fit. These four pretty much cover business and life in general.

Rich's Four Rules

1. Take care of the people who take care of you

Build relationships that last. If you're twenty years old, you may begin a relationship that lasts for sixty years or more. Try to keep your family relationships positive or at least civil even if your relatives are insane. It's hard to argue the thickness of blood especially in tough times. Don't abuse friendships or ignore an outstretched hand. Watch for the signs of an appreciative word, support during a discussion, or someone willing to do more than the usual and then reciprocate.

2. You never know today who you'll be working for tomorrow

If you're getting a promotion or leaving a job or leaving a relationship, suppress the urge to gloat, catcall, ignore, tell off, berate, humiliate or do any other such things to those you are leaving behind. No matter how good you may think it will feel, use a little self control. Because things change. Companies are bought and sold, departments reorganize, friends get better looking and before you know it, the whole structure of the universe is topsy-turvey. And that ex-girl-friend is your new boss.

3. Know your audience

Try to wake up every now and again and look around. See what's happening around you. Notice things. And then do something about what you noticed. If you're talking to someone and they keep looking down and away from you or at their watch, they're NOT LISTENING. STOP TALKING! Pay attention to the reaction of people you're speaking to and if you're not getting the reaction you wanted, do something about it. Geez. Wake up!

4. Know the nature of the beast you are hunting

You want a new job? Well what does the job want from you? Find out what the job expects, do your research, do your analysis. Got a real problem going on? Tough, nasty little bugger, huh? Before diving into the possible solutions, take the problem apart, discover what's at the core. You may be trying to solve a symptom and the real issue is still undiscovered. It might appear to be slowing you down, but that first step back to actually see what's going on helps EVERY TIME.

Sounds simplistic, huh, but the next time you've got something going on apply the applicable rule and the rule will get you though it. Bluto used these rules and he ended up a United States Senator. And so can you. If that's what you want.


Rich's Four Rules
are for educational and enlightenment purposes only. Don't come bitching to me if they don't work for you, you probably used them wrong. Besides, I didn't charge you anything, did I? Well, DID I? So just take your complaint down the hall and remember Rule Number 1.


Dave said...


Leah Kleylein said...

I was fortunate enough to figure out rule #2 a long time ago (mostly due to the nature of my industry).
concerning the 'know your audience' my work life I have used a slight variation of that - "let other people talk" (must be my psych background).
If I understand them, it's easier for me to figure out how to get what I need.
I love these rules, I've saved them from when you sent them out in an email a long long time ago. Those kids were lucky to hear you speak!